Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Where Do You Go When You've Blown It?

So, where do I go when I've blown it?  When my head hangs low in shame and the stark contrast of God's holiness and my caked on layers of grime from wallowing in the muck and mire leave me feeling destitute?  What do children of the King do when their actions have brought shame upon His Name? 

This was me this morning.  The Bible has much to say on this and I'm so glad.  In the parable of the Prodigal son we know that the Father understands what it's like to be shamed by His wayward child.  What shame to have an inheritance squandered.  Yes, just like the son, though I had everything I could ever want or need at my disposal the grass looked greener... and before long I found myself far from home and covered in the filth of sin.

But just like the son of Luke 15, I've come to my senses.  It's not better on this side!  I traded what appealed to me in the moment but it turns sour in the stomach and I come up empty.  It's not like this in my Father's house and I want to go home!
So, like him, I arose and headed home.  And just like him, my Father runs to meet me.  He's been watching and waiting...

"Father, I have sinned against heaven and before You..." (Luke 15:21a).  "My soul clings to the dust... when I told of my ways, You answered me... my soul melts away for sorrow..." (Psalm 119:25a, 26a, 28a).  "Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall!  My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. BUT THIS I CALL TO MIND AND THEREFORE I HAVE HOPE..." (Lamentations 3:19-21, emphasis mine).

In logical terms, it's not dignified how the Father runs to embrace me and clothe me and restore me - but it's just like my Father!  There's none like Him!  His love is greater than what I can truly comprehend and I find mercy and grace to help in my time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).
You see, it's not on my merit I come.  I can't.  I don't have a leg to stand on - but Jesus... He made a way!  When His disciples asked how many times they should forgive - seven times?  Surely, that was good.  It surpassed the law.  But Jesus answered 490 times!  He wasn't suggesting they pull out a tick sheet - HE doesn't!  (see Matthew 18:21-22)  Though I came to Him this morning seeking forgiveness - again - more times than I count... if I confess my sins He is faithful and just and will forgive my sins and cleanse me from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).

"The steadfast love of the LORD NEVER ceases; His mercies never come to an end; they ARE NEW every morning, great is Your faithfulness!"  (Lamentations 3:22-23, emphasis mine).
So what now?  Does that mean it's okay to just keep on sinning because there's grace?  No.  He wants me to rise up and "go and sin no more" (John 8:11).  But I needed Him to "set my heart free" so I have the courage to even rise up and try (Psalm 119:32).

"Not by might, nor by power but by His Spirit." (Zechariah 4:6)

"Your grace is sufficient for me for Your power is made perfect in MY WEAKNESS." (2 Corinthians 12:9, emphasis mine).

Father, what can I say but thank You?  Inadequate words but better ones escape me.  You never leave me nor forsake me (Joshua 1:5, Hebrews 13:5).  You understand that I am but dust (Psalm 103:14).  You don't leave me powerless to get up and walk.  Instead, You manifest Your power in these jars of clay! (2 Corinthians 4:7).  And so my soul can once again say, the LORD is my portion, therefore, I will hope in Him (Lamentations 3:24).  And like the prodigal son, I relish my Father's embrace!  Praise You, LORD!

Sunday, March 24, 2013


I woke yesterday morning with a strange mix of emotions swirling through me.  As I sat with the Lord, I couldn't quite put my finger on how I was feeling or what I was thinking but I do know, that in the midst of it all, was a fear of failing - of falling down, back into the muck and mire in a specific area of my life.  The Lord is definitely taking me to a new level of obedience and tearing down a stronghold.  On one hand, I'm so excited to think I could be free!  On the other hand, I know me.  My track record suggests falling is not only possible but probable.  And so went my dilemma... I decided that I needed to just do the next "right" thing and so I pulled out my devotional books and began to read Truth.

The first paragraph caught my attention.  It quoted from Psalm 31:23 and how God promises to "preserve" me.  That sounded like exactly what I needed to hear.  I opened my Bible to read the verse in context.  I was struck by the end of verse 21, "when I was in a besieged city."  That's how I felt!  I felt like I was in a besieged city.  For the moment, I still had all that I needed to stand but I was worried the fall was coming.  Verse 22 says that, "I had said in my alarm, 'I am cut off from your sight.'"  Wasn't that really what I was saying to the Lord?  Can You see me?  Am I going to be alright? 

Don't you just love the LORD?!  Just like the words that come next, "But You heard the voice of my pleas for mercy when I cried to You for help," God had heard the voice behind my cry.  He put words to how I was feeling and He was offering me mercy and help.  Praise God!

That brought me to verse 23, the one that had caught my attention in the first place.  Now, LORD, tell me how You will "preserve" me!  "Preserve" is translated from the Hebrew word "natsar" (Strong's #5341).  It means to guard.  Remember how He shut the lion's mouths, kept the fiery furnace flames from consuming Shadrack, Meshak and Abednego? I asked myself.  The definition continues... to protect, to maintain, to keep... Which in the definition has a play on the word "besieged"!!  Of course it does!  Besiege me, LORD!

And how does the passage end?  "Be strong, and let your heart take courage, all you who wait for the LORD!" (emphasis mine)

Abba, when I hear You tell me these things, I have to wonder at the word "faithful".  You preserve the faithful.  Isn't that my concern?  That I won't be faithful?  But this is how I will view it today.  Being faith-full has to start somewhere and it seems to me that exercising faith that You can AND WILL do all these things You've promised is the place to start!  Thank You in advance for how You will preserve me today (and tomorrows).  Please help me to take each day one day at a time!  May I hear You say, "In My strength and My power, child, you CAN stay faithful today!"  In the Name of Jesus, let it be done!

Sunday, March 10, 2013

Wanna Run?

The Lord recalled a picture to my mind this morning that I hadn't thought of in a long while.  He had originally shown it to me a few years ago while I was at a conference.  As I was listening to the speaker, I had glanced across the aisle and noticed a mother tenderly holding her tiny baby close to her chest.  I remember telling the Lord to hold me close.  I wanted to know I was cradled in His arms - just like that!

The Lord allowed me to savor the moment and the knowledge that He does indeed hold His children close to His chest.  Isaiah 40:11 says, "He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart..."  Then, however, I sensed Him ask, "Child, don't you want to run?"

The question stopped me short.  Was I so intent on safety and contentment that I was willing to remain a spiritual baby?  Was I so afraid of falling that I would rather stay swaddled than set my feet to the floor?  It took me a few moments of soul searching before I could declare to the Lord, "I want to run!"  That's where my musings left off with the Lord when we talked about it in 2009 - with the picture of a youngster learning to run free!

I'm not sure why the Lord brought the pictures back to my mind this morning.  I like to think that slowly but surely over these past few years, I have been learning to run.  I guess I do know... Even as I sit here, I remember the whole context of our quiet time this morning.  I had been praying for courage and boldness to share my faith with those around me.  Once again, I sensed the Lord ask me if I was really serious.  Did I really want to be bold and courageous?  I'm scared but I do!  So many that I love are dying without the hope that Jesus brings! 
Perhaps that's why we revisited the pictures above.  We've tried my feet and put a little distance under them but am I ready to get serious about it?  Really?
Now, there's new pictures coming to my mind.  This time it's a runner.  As I contemplate on the implications, what kind of runner am I being asked to be?  A jogger?  No.  I don't think so.  Though I think obedience will bring joy, I think this is way more than a pleasure run.  A sprinter?  No.  I think a steady exertion over the long haul is required.  Lord, would you make me a "marathoner"?  Please give me great endurance to run this race that You've marked out for me.

What about you?  Where are you at?  What question might the Lord be asking you?  Are you content to be cradled?  Are you learning to run?  Or are you willing to answer the call to be serious in this Christian walk?  (or should I say run?)  What might the Lord do if we got serious for Jesus?  Twelve disciples (make that eleven) changed the world!  I wonder if we could too...

Monday, March 4, 2013

Thoughts On The Exodus...

Last night the mini-series "The Bible" began on television.  I love how such depictions can help grant insights into the Truth of God's Word.  What struck me most as I watched the story of Moses was that the Egyptians pursued the people of Israel.  Exodus 14 tells us four times that the Egyptians pursued God's people.  If you had asked me before watching the movie, I would have told you that the Egyptians came after the Israelites to take them back, but last night, I was moved to feel their fear and panic.  I reread the account of the Israelites leaving Egypt and crossing the Red Sea this morning.  There were a number of things that stood out...
  1. It began with the physical release of the slaves by their captor.
  2. The people of Israel had to leave behind the life they knew.
  3. There were obstacles of impossibility along the path to the unknown.
  4. The Egyptian captors "pursued: followed with enmity as if to harm" (online dictionary) them on their way.
  5. A vast army pursued them - not just a small "manageable" band.
  6. It provoked great fear and complaining among God's people.
  7. They needed to be silent before God so they could hear Him say go forward... over the sea!
  8. Israel saw their enemy destroyed and God's power displayed.
  9. God's people feared the LORD and believed!
So what is the application to me?  I may not be a slave in an enemy nation but I confess that I am enslaved to a food addiction.  I had lived a number of years as a free woman only to "return to Egypt" through permissive behavior and dismissing the Voice of the LORD.  It's a terrible place to be and I desperately want to be free!

1 Corinthians 6:12 says, Everything is permissible for me but not everything is beneficial.  Everything is permissible for me but I will not be mastered by anything.  Right now, carbohydrates have mastery over me and though I know what to do, I have yet to leave them behind.  So, where does that leave me?  What should I do?  If you are honest with yourself, what about you?  Does anyone or anything have a strong hold on you?
  1. As believers, our physical release from captivity to the enemy was purchased by Jesus Christ at Calvary!  We CAN leave our captor behind.  (Romans 6:15-22, Galatians 5:1)
  2. We need to get started on a new way of living.  For me, healthy food and new ways of spending my time (exercise and planning for healthy eating and workouts).  (2 Corinthians 5:17)
  3. It's imperative that we recognize that nothing is impossible with God! (Matthew 17:20, 19:26, Mark 10:27, Luke 1:37, 18:27)
  4. Here's where I seem to be stuck... The enemy pursues and I surrender!  Whether it's bad habits engrained in us or demonic enemies (and it's probably both) if I'm going to be free, I'm going to have to play the tape to the end and tell myself the Truth! 
  5. If I don't, the vast army will continue to pursue me and not stop until I am destroyed (poor health, shame, condemnation, the loss of a testimony for God's glory).  (John 10:10, 1 Peter 5:8)
  6. Fear is really False Evidence Appearing Real... The Truth is God is All-Powerful!  He's the Miracle Worker!  He'll never leave me!  He knows exactly where I am!  He's faithful to lead me!  He's paid the ultimate price for me to be free!  He's on my side!  I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength!
  7. So... quit my complaining and listen for God's direction!  He'll tell me when to go and where to go - even how to do it!
  8. When the dawn comes, I will see that my enemy has been completely destroyed!  I will know the power of God because I will have seen Him exercise it on my behalf! 
  9. I've seen God's power before - many times!  Fear the LORD and believe!!
Let's get moving!  Go forward!  See the glory and majesty and power of the LORD!  The rewards of obedience are great and as we see in Exodus 15, we will sing a new song!